My topic for Project 2’s ‘Point-of-Views’ is on ‘Beauty’. But what is even weirder is that my concept revolves around ‘Beauty’ and Hitler– what does Hitler find beautiful? Or what do the people around him find beautiful as well?
The topic of Hitler came about when I was exploring POVs for ‘Happiness’ and I came up with a POV: “Happiness from the POV of Hitler is: blue eyes, blond hair and fair skin”. Everything kind of led towards Hitler after that, mainly because for IGCSEs I studied about Germany and Hitler for a year or half a year? (Not 2 years, sorry everyone, my mistake!) I can’t really remember how long but it felt like it was a really long time. What really pushed me to head to this concept was during a group consultation when Joy suggested that I just focus all my POVs on Hitler. I was a bit taken aback, but I did it and here’s how it went:
It was rather challenging to come up with solutions to Hitler’s POV of beauty, not because there was a lack of knowledge of what he liked/ preferred, but rather, doing everything from Hitler’s POV would have been rather dull and superficial.
So, although my overarching concept was based on Hitler and beauty, I decided to widen my scope and introduce POVs of others, but at the same time still being very relevant to Hitler. I found that doing this added more depth to my project and execution as the juxtaposing POVs on beauty helped me emphasise certain elements more.
*Sorry for the quality of the images, OSS doesn’t allow me to upload high res images 🙁
The format that I chose to present:
The right column (2,4,5) : Hitler’s POVs
The left column represents (1,3,6) : Other’s POVs
In this composition, I wanted it to really reflect a child’s innocence, so I chose not to use any symbolism or hidden imagery in it.
I was actually thinking of putting in barbed wires in the background to foreshadow concentration camps, but I decided against it and just leave it simple. Because to think of it, if I was really to trying depict a mother’s POV, she would find this simple, everyday situation beautiful and she would find not fault in this picture.
Therefore, what you see here is what you get,: a baby Hitler is sitting with his dog on the grass in peace. One thing I wanted to point out is that I decided to use the grass from the painting of the dog and cover it over the original grass was because the drawing Hitler drew of the dog had a bright, colourful palette and I wanted to use that bright colour, to have an element that is reminiscent of children’s drawing.
Hitler’s art used:
As I was doing more research on Nazi policies and what Hitler liked/disliked, I learned something extremely interesting. The Nazis had strict policies on animal rights, and those who mistreated their pets could be jailed for 2 years. I also found out that Hitler was a vegetarian. All this seemed very ironic and twisted to me. But it seems that the Nazis also discriminated a portion of animals- pets belonging to Jews and other non-Aryan races had to be euthanised. I wanted tot translate this irony, this twisted perception of mercy in this POV.
Therefore, in this composition I wanted to depict a hypothetical situation: What if Hitler treated the Jews the same way as he treated animals? You could easily find photos of Hitler smiling and lovingly (can I use this word for this man?) at dogs or deers as he fed them.
Hitler especially loved dogs and had several drawing of them. I thought it would be interesting to have him with his dog in each composition he is in, and to further highlight my hypothetical situation, this was the only composition where Hitler is without his dog- to emphasise that the Jewish people lying on the ground are meant to replace the animal- not in a disrespectful way- but to show the irony that Hitler would only look at them, smiling, (I photoshopped the squirrel he was feeding out of the photo) if they were simply animals and not human beings who happened to be Jews.
As for the choice of background, I used this desolate drawing he made, just to mimic where the scenery of where he would usually be when feeding animals/ walking with his dog.
Hitler’s art used:
This piece was slightly more fun and carefree to do, as I embraced the spirit of Dadaism.
When the Nazis came to power, they controlled everything- from radio and television broadcasts, music, book and art. I read about how Hitler hated modernism and all forms of it- he preferred the traditional methods of painting- art portraying the supreme race, power, landscape etc. Surrealism, Dadaism and all other forms of Modern Art was banned. The Nazis even had an exhibition titled “Degenerate Art or something” where they ridiculed these artists, put graffitti and hung their art askew, and encouraged the public to see how ‘crazy’ these artists were. The fact that they went to the extent to hold an exhibition for ‘Degenerate Art’ showed how extreme they were.
Hence, this composition is meant to show the POV of a Dadaist and I tried to imagine how a Dada artist might react to the Nazi’s extreme actions. Using Hitler’s photos and his own drawings/paintings in this piece would magnify the act of ‘rebellion’ and add humour to it- almost like Hitler spitting in their face, but they deflect his spit back his on face. There’s no concrete reason why I arranged the composition the way I did, but I suppose I somewhat consciously wanted to have the arms pet the dog aka Hitler. My main aim was to ridicule Hitler as much as possible- so the photo I took was actually one his photographer was commanded to discard but he didn’t. Hitler hated that photo, well because he looked ridiculous.
*It’s also a bit ironic- how he him being depicted as a dog ‘degrades him’ from Hitler’s POV, whereas the non-Aryan people being depicted as dogs is supposed to ‘increase their status’ from Hitler’s POV.
Hitler’s art used:
Going back to the point in POV 2 where I mentioned that there were many photos of Hitler walking with his dog in the mountains, looking at the picture in its original context, I imagined Hitler to be enjoying the view with his dog from above. So I wanted to change that scenario and depict him imagining a different view. Visual pleasure is derived from beauty, so getting into his twisted murderous mind, I would think that to him, a beautiful view is a ‘clean’ country- one with no impure races.
I kept this composition relatively simple like POV 2 to relay his POV. I wanted it to make it seem like he is showing his dog ‘a beautiful sight’- the mountains- but with a pile of dead bodies at the bottom. Therefore, he is enjoying the view of his dream of a ‘clean country’.
Hitler’s art used:
Hitler had always wanted Lebensraum, living space for him and his Aryans to live.
I wanted to show Hitler looking out to his larger-than-life ideal Aryan family just casually sitting amongst the mountains majestically as if they own the land. I played with the scale and made the family larger because I wanted to make it seem like Hitler is visualising his dreams, and it’s literally larger than life. Hence, the background and the family are all in colour, while Hitler and his dog are in reality looking out to his ideals.
For the background, I merged two of his paintings together to get the colours and the mountains. I increased the saturation of the painting to match the colours of the Aryan family and make it seamless.
Hitler’s art used:
Nazi propaganda poster used:
(I just realised this was the only art I used that wasn’t Hitler’s! Oops.)
This last composition was a bit tricky to do, and I struggled in knowing how to depict ‘freedom’ without being cliched. The freedom of the survivors= Hitler’s death. I was considering something along the lines of having the prisoners stand on Hitler’s dead body, or a collage of Hitler’s ‘dismembered’ body parts? It was all too vulgar and direct. I think last minute pressure really pushed me to think and I decided to depict the survivor’s freedom through the shattering of Hitler’s dream/ideals. Like how hunters pose with the kill after they shoot, I wanted to mimic that same celebratory mood with the prisoners holding pieces of Hitler’s paintings in their hands.
Another thing that was important was the background. Many of the photos had the ‘non-Aryans’ behind the gates, so having the people in front of the gates was a more subtle way to depict them having escaped from the nightmare, and the absence of Hitler is the main giveaway that he has died.
Hitler’s art used:
I didn’t really talk about my reference artists in my presentation, so I wanted to use this opportunity to show how I have managed to bring in my research into my actual works.
If you look at my compositions, you can see I was certainly inspired by the surrealism of her collages.Although my main focus wasn’t surrealism as I intended it to be, the creativity and imagination she showed in her collages pushed me to think more creatively and experiment with pictures. It’s not that easy to create collages, and you would need an eye for it and a lot of practise to reach the level Loli has. It was definitely enjoyable doing it although it took a lot of trial and error.
I was inspired by Blick to juxtapose black and white with colour to bring emphasis and meaning. In addition to giving a striking contrast, it allowed my compositions to have another layer of meaning. In each composition, Hitler is depicted in black and white, or rather, each I used black and white to represent reality- something that has passed. Conversely, the colours represents an ideal/ vision and sets a background to a hypothetical or perhaps impossible situation.
Although I planned on incorporating some of my own illustrations/ paper cut but didn’t manage to do it, I was inspired by Molly Jey’s work in that she creates depth by layering. It might be just a small thing, but I wanted to create this small pop-out effect with hitler’s photos to create some distance between him and his ideals/visions, therefore I used the drop shadow effect in Photoshop. Having the shadows make it seem like Hitler is an actor against a backdrop.
From the class:
(Again, I can’t remember what exactly Joy said, but this was the impression I received)
- She liked that I went through the presentation from the beginning to the end in logical order I guess, haha. My presentations are usually all over the place, so perhaps I relayed my thoughts/process/concept in a more organised manner.
- She also liked how, in the last composition, in reference to Hitler’s death, there was no need for Hitler to be physically there. Rather, the survivors were holding onto fragments of his painting was used as a symbol.
- She liked that my concept was a refreshing take on Beauty.
Thanks everyone! (:
- Concept: I’m glad that I finally really took Joy’s advice for once (I always try to follow her advice, but I somehow stray away from it and do my own thing), because or else I would have gone a different route with the ‘Ironic/Twisted situations’, and in hindsight, the emphasis would have been placed on the twist in narrative rather than exploring/depicting POVs creatively.
- Reference artists: I’m also extremely happy that I managed to actually use inspiration from all my reference artists, and that you can actually see how I was inspired by each of them. I’m not saying it’s necessarily good/bad to have your work be reminiscent of another artist’s, but channelling their style and methods can sometimes push you even further creatively than just relying on your own sense of style/design/method.
- Presentation: I was less nervous for this presentation, mainly because I was prepared. I felt that I somewhat relayed my points clearly and logically, and that it wasn’t so scattered. However, my presentation skills still have a long way to go and my next aim is to have a printed script and up my presentation game.
Overall, I feel very positive about this project, however, I could definitely improve my execution, trying to find high res images for the collages, having better process sketches and work and of course, my presentation skills (!). This was definitely a step out of my comfort zone in terms of concept and execution, as I’m still not very comfortable with using Photoshop. I’m really glad I did this project!
Also, thank you Joy for always pushing me to go out of my comfort zone!